Photo: Mark Buckler
Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos
Classification: Game Species
Abundance: Found statewide
Male and Female Mallard Ducks (Photo by Mark Buckler)
The mallard is a large, dabbling duck with broad wings. The male’s (drake) distinctive green head and brown chest are separated by a white neck-ring, contrasted by gray sides, a brown back, and a black rump. The female (hen) is marked in a mottled pattern of light and dark brown streaks, accented by a dark brown streak through the eye. Both male and female mallards sport a violet-blue spectrum on each wing. Mallards possess excellent eyesight and hearing, giving the duck an advantage when an intruder nears. The mallard is more vocal than all other ducks and uses a variety of quacks to indicate its actions and moods.
The mallard duck is the most adaptable of all ducks and is well dispersed throughout North America.
While most mallards breed on the northern prairies, many nest elsewhere, including North Carolina. Although the mallard prefers shallow wetlands for feeding and resting, it builds its nest on dry ground. During the winter months,an abundant supply of food and a safe roosting site are adequate needs for survival. Mallards feed primarily on natural foods such as wild rice, pond weed, smartweed, bulrushes, and a number of other emergent and submerged plants. When natural foods are limited or not available, mallards rely on grains such as corn, soybeans and wheat that are left in agricultural fields as the result of harvesting, or left standing to provide winter food for waterfowl.
Learn more by reading the Mallard Duck Species Profile.
Seasons / Limits
Youth Waterfowl Day(s)
Extended Falconry Seasons
Additional Info (including license requirements, non-toxic shot requirements, baiting information and various reports)
Permit Hunting Opportunities
There are no reported problems with this species.
For more information on the management of waterfowl, including mallards, visit the Commission's Waterfowl in North Carolina page.
Mallard Duck Species Profile
Sandy Mush Game Land Birding Checklist (PDF)